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Vol 3, No 19
28 May 2001
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EU NewsNews from Brussels
All the important news
since 19 May 2001

Ivana Gogova and
Branimira Radoslavova


Reform for EU regional policy?

On 21 and 22 May in Brussels, the EU Commission organized the second Cohesion Forum for the discussion of regional and structural subsidies. Commissioners Anna Diamantopoulou (Social Fund) and Michel Barnier (Regional Policy) both called for a reform of Structural Funds accommodating the needs of a an enlarged union. However, reform was to be carried out after 2006, they recommended.

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If the distribution mechanisms of EU regional subsidies remain the same, current member states will lose most of their aid. At present, regions with per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) lower than 75 percent of the EU average are eligible for most of the Structural Funds. And if per capita GDP falls below 90 percent, regions are also considered for subsidies from the Cohesion Fund. Once countries with generally poorer living standards join the EU, members such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece will be well above the 75 percent mark of average per capita GDP in the EU.

Commissioner Barnier made it clear that a solution to this political conundrum is under way. One of the proposals envisages increasing the percentage barrier for Structural Funds from 75 to 90 percent below the EU average. On the other hand, setting two thresholds was also seen as a viable alternative.


Buzek: 30 percent on accession states

Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek claimed that Poland should be receiving the biggest share of subsidies when it becomes EU member. Moreover, 30 percent of all available EU aid should be spent on the current accession states when they join, he pointed out. He also proposed an increase of the funds for structural and regional aid; both Diamantopoulou and Barnier also supported this increase. Together with other accession-state representatives, Buzek dismissed Barnier's proposal for double standards in the distribution of aid.

Nevertheless, the EU Commissioners identified some problems with the planning of a clear reform strategy at present. To start with, there is still no timetable or deadlines for the accession of new members. As a result, it is impossible to predict which and how many candidates will have joined by 2006 when the new EU budget comes out. In this respect, Agenda 2000 is based on the assumption of a maximum of six new members by 2006, while the Commission is currently working with up to ten new EU states by the end of this period.

Still, the Commission insists that Agenda 2000 will suffice for cohesion policies until 2006. Moreover, raising the expenditures for structural operations will incur additional costs for the largest net payers in the EU such as Germany, France, the UK and Italy. Thus, accession negotiations are bound to become even more complicated and difficult to push forward as the issue of distribution of structural and regional aid becomes more imminent.


NATO welcomes provisional self-government

A Constitutional Framework for the Provisional Self-government of Kosovo has been welcomed by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. The framework has been designed by Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Hans Hækkerup and aims at establishing interim institutions in line with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Elections for the province are being planned for 17 November 2001.


Meetings of NATO Military Committee

The NATO Military Committee recently had its first meeting in a series held annually at Chiefs of Staff level. The Committee's main responsibilities are assisting and advising NATO's civilian decision-making bodies.

The issues discussed by NATO military representatives and partners (as outlined by Guido Venturoni, chairman of the Committee) include:

  • the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • NATO operations in the Balkans as well as the traditional six-month review of KFOR and SFOR activities
  • the functioning of the European Security and Defence Identity in conjunction with the alliance, and the upcoming first joint meeting between NATO's Military Committee and the newly established EU military committee
  • cooperation with Russia and Ukraine in the Balkans and in general

Ivana Gogova and Branimira Radoslavova,
26 May 2001

Moving on:


The Independent
NATO Official Homepage

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